I wake up in a hospital. I wake up screaming. I’m in a hospital and I’m screaming. Thoughts are racing through my brain like streams race towards rivers. Why am I here? Why am I screaming? Did I have an accident? Did I have a nightmare? Who put me in here? How did I get here? Why can’t I stop screaming?
I try to speak words, but I can’t form the consonants. I try to halt my scream, but I can’t stop the vowels. I feel a needle plunge into the right side of my neck, and my voice slowly dispels into silence. I tilt my head just enough to see a nurse at my bed side whispering, “It’s ok, it’s ok. Go to sleep now.” But I don’t want to sleep. I want answers. But those answers will have to wait, for the world is turning black.
I don’t remember the last time I felt anything – the air, the sun, the restless internal struggle of emotions, the barricade of morality. Nothing; I feel absolutely nothing.
I’m not what you would call a socializer. It takes every skin cell in the integumentary system for me to walk out the front door, go to the mailbox, and return a hello to the overly cheerful mailman sticking bills into the slot. I couldn’t fathom actually holding a conversation with another person. What would we talk about? Life, school, work? Listening to someone else’s meaningless agenda doesn’t do much for me.
I live in a town, a town so small I’m not quite sure of the name of it. Growing up I heard it referred to as a ghost town, a cave, an unidentified spot on a map. As for me, I’ve been calling it Hell for years.
I live with a man named Clark. He calls himself my father, but I question the validity of that statement. My real father is somewhere out of reach, in a place that I’m certain has a name. Clark is simply a man my mother once loved for a brief period of time, and when she left, he stayed. Many people claimed that he was unselfish, that he was doing the right thing – the responsible thing. They were under the impression that his raising me made him a good, honest, decent human being. Of course, the thousands of dollars he receives in child support each month has nothing to do with it.
My name is Java – Java Fang. There isn’t a single joke I haven’t heard about it. I’m not sure if it was my mother’s career as a barista or my father’s love of coffee that made them think it suitable. Then again, it may have been all the heroine running through their veins. As for the last name Fang, my father’s family is Chinese. The two names together make me sound like I came ripping out of some damn comic book, which I suppose may be appealing to some. But if you cling to invisibility like dryer sheets cling to mismatched socks, then the name Java Fang will not suit. Perhaps a name such as Amanda or Alice will suffice, but not Java, certainly not Java.
I wake up in my bed, a bed that looks like a twelve year old boy sleeps in it. It’s almost too small for me, and the sheets and comforter have astronauts and spaceships on them. My two pillows are even shaped like an alien and a UFO, and the headboard has a bunch of NASA stickers on it. Back when I was a child full of dreams and ambitions I wanted to go to space. That ship sailed a long time ago, but Clark has never gotten around to getting me anything new.
My mother left when I was eleven, and my room looks exactly the way it did when she left. Even the pea green curtains and the pea green carpet haven’t been replaced. In a way, it’s pathetic: a sixteen year old girl living in a child’s bedroom. In another way though, it’s somewhat reminiscent. Its wishful thinking, but sometimes I picture my mother coming back into the house one day, walking through my bedroom door, and seeing that everything was just the way she left it. Maybe if she knew that the way things were could be the way things always are, she wouldn’t have feared the future. I believe that fear caused her to leave, and when she comes back I want my room to be a place where she can feel safe and secure. In this room I’m still her little astronaut. In this room I’m still her little girl.
Judging by the sun I believe its morning. My bedroom door is wide open and down the hall I can hear Clark talking on the phone while sitting at the kitchen table. He has his newspaper open and his eyebrows are raised likes he’s reading politics, but he’s merely reading the funnies. I don’t know whether he finds them amusing or insulting because I’ve never seen him laugh while reading them. He looks at them like aliens in outer space look down on the human race: idiotic, but by no means a laughing matter.
He is listening to the other person on the end of the line. He puts down the newspaper, adjusts his tie, takes a sip of his coffee, and clears his throat.
“I’ve told you, I’ve told you this time and time again. Java needs to see someone new. This just isn’t working out.”
He sounds exhausted. He pauses in the conversation like he’s listening, but the truth is he’s just waiting to further his own argument.
“The man Java is seeing now doesn’t understand her. He hardly has a bachelor’s in psychology. I want her to see someone with at least a master’s, preferably someone specializing in her condition.”
My condition – why do people keep saying that? If I have a condition, shouldn’t I know about it?
“Look, this conversation is over. I’m not sending her to that guy again. Either you find someone else or I’m going to a new treatment center. I’ll change my insurance if I have to. Goodbye.” And with one click everything ends. Amazing, isn’t it? What if real life had a hang-up button? Would the world even have problems?
I don’t own a cell phone – too much social interaction is required for one. Clark, however, acts as if his cell phone is a child. Technically, I suppose it’s his only biological one. Anytime he runs into extra cash the phone is where his money goes: upgrade to a newer model, faster internet, more memory, more music, more photos, voice dialing, games, apps, and the list goes on. I suppose the typical child would feel neglected by this. I suppose the typical child would feel that they had to fight against this cell phone to get their father’s attention. As for me, that cell phone is a gift from God. The more time he spends on it, the less time I have to spend with him, and the less time he has to waste pretending to actually care about me.
Clark looks down the hall and sees that I’ve woken. We make uncomfortable eye contact so I turn over in my bed to face the wall. He goes to the sink and fills up a glass of water before slowly walking in my room and sitting on the edge of the bed.
“Time for your meds,” he says waving two pill bottles in my face. I take a blue pill twice a day, morning and night, along with a pink pill three times a day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t know what they’re for, and coincidentally I don’t know what they’re called. I’ve never bothered asking. Clark has taken the liberty of scraping off every label for every pill I’ve ever taken. He says he doesn’t want me researching them and worrying that something’s wrong with me, but his logic is all wrong. First off, I don’t worry about anything ever because I simply don’t care about anything ever. Second off, if I was to worry, wouldn’t scraping labels off my pill bottles cause further anxiety?
I swallow the pink and blue pills, and stick my tongue out because Clark doesn’t trust me. Then I put my head back on the pillow and stare at the ceiling covered with glow-in-the-dark stars, connecting them into my own version of the big dipper. Clark stands up and hovers over me with an irritated look on his face.
“You know you’re going to school today. You’ve missed too many days this year being in the hospital. They’re going to suspend you.”
I lay motionless.
“Java… Java… Java, I’ll be back in five minutes. If you’re not out of this bed, your ass is grass. No bullshit today.”
In a voice no louder than a whisper I ask, “What day is it?”
“No. The month, the year?”
I stare at him in silence watching him get more irritated. Right before storming out of the room he flatly says:
“January 4th, 2012.”